|Title||My Sacred Mountain: Etan Pavavalung Solo Exhibition|
|Dates||Dec 11, 2021 – Jan 27, 2022|
|Reception||Dec 11, 2021 (Sat.) 4:00 p.m.|
Asia Art Center (Taipei)
My Sacred Mountain: Etan Pavavalung Solo Exhibition
My Sacred Mountain is the first exhibition of Paiwan artist Etan Pavavalung’s artistic career that emphasizes the concept of “Mine” in the title, which marks a transformation in his creative path. In his past artistic propositions, Etan focused on the cultural consciousness of the indigenous people and the care of tribal reconstruction, particularly after the Morakot typhoon in 2009. Etan’s mother called for respect for nature, and the tribal elders also spoke of “The mountain blows fragrant and sweet winds,” hoping that the tribe could return to their homes on the mountain again one day. These wishes are deeply implanted in the life of Etan and became an indispensable initiative in his artistic practice. He is devoted to the spiritual reconstruction of the tribe and plays the role of a storyteller. Through artistic creation, he guides the tribe to remember the initial intention of interacting with the natural earth.
In recent years, Etan has gradually shifted from spiritual reconstruction to the deeper interpretation of cultural aesthetics, such as mythology and ecological philosophy. The title My Sacred Mountain points to this subtle change, illuminating a pilgrimage for Etan to explore inwardly as a Paiwan tribe member and a Christian. Although it seems like a turning point, it is actually a restoration of cultural ethnicity, as his mother’s reminders and tribal elders’ stories made Etan introspect on his interaction with nature and land. He imprinted these irreplaceable life experiences in his works, incorporating symbolic elements derived from the spiritual foundation of the tribe such as “sun,” “wind,” “lily,” “eyes,” and others to construct an abstract and vibrant sacred mountain. Furthermore, he believed that before all things existed, a more primitive and noble being existed. The being looked after all things, essentially as sunshine and stars, lilies of the land, and fragrant delivered from the mountain wind.
As a member of the Pavavalung family of the Davalan tribe, Etan Pavavalung inherited the Pulima spirit of the Paiwan tribe, reflecting and expressing culture through artistic practice. In the Paiwan language, “Lima” means “hand,” and Pulima means “a person with exquisite craftsmanship who accomplishes goals with hands.” Etan’s unique “Trace Layer Carve Paint” is derived from the Paiwan term “Vecik.” and used to express his artistic vocabulary. “Vecik” means writing, embroidering, engraving, tattooing, and tattooing with patterns, usually referring to the “Iconic Designs” in their culture and everyday life, where various symbols and patterns are combined, each represents a precise meaning and relationship. While the verb “Venecik” of “Vecik” means completing the patterns mentioned above, it also means writing or recording. It records the way the tribe interacts with nature and documents the vital inheritance of tribal culture. Etan transforms the expression of contemporary art with “Trace Layer Carve Paint” and reproduces the ancient aesthetic experience of the Paiwan people.
Etan Pavavalung was born in the Davalan tribe in Pingtung, Taiwan, as part of a renowned Paiwan artist-filled family. The name “Etan” was inherited from his grandfather, an ancient Paiwan name meaning “a courageous man”; “Pavavalung” is a family name, indicating the home where life descended on the earth, which is the home inherited by the father of Etan.
Etan’s faith navigates his inner belief. When receiving education on theology, his understanding of “Tao” changed his attitude towards life; this is also when he found the strength dedicated to the consciousness and rejuvenation of his ethnic identity. The Wild Lily Student Movement and the Indigenous Peoples’ Movement in the 1980s to 90s was also a significant period influencing the aesthetic experience of Etan, who then converted his social movement energy into artistic creations. He believed that the hope of the indigenous people must be brought from a profound humanistic spirit in a grass-rooted manner, which is why images of aboriginal cultural aesthetics became the main vocabulary for his creation.
Etan’s artistic creations are incredibly diverse; style ranges from delicately poetic, plain yet mysterious, to creations full of imagination. In addition to creating paintings and sculptures, Etan also produces printmaking, installations, poems, prose, report literature, advertising design, and more. Additionally, he is also an expert at practicing his artistic appreciation in documentaries and curatorial work. Over the past few years, he has worked closely with independent curators such as Manray Hsu, curating many large-scale exhibitions focusing on the Taiwanese indigenous people and Austronesian aesthetics. Recent works include The Distances between Us and the Future – Taiwan Indigenous Contemporary Art exhibition, covering Taiwan County Highway 185 and Provincial Highway 24, and Between Earth and Sky: Indigenous Contemporary Art from Taiwan, which will open in December at the Australia Queensland Art Gallery and Gallery of Modern Art as part of the 10th Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art.